Tuesday, August 26, 2014

This one is for you baby

I need to write something out tonight but I'm not entirely sure how to go about doing it, and even what it is exactly. I don't feel I can be as explicit on here as I used to be able to when no one really read this thing. Since the art fair I've been very busy, but in a lonely way. Working largely from home I can go whole days without speaking to a soul, except perhaps the postman. That is a radical change from art fair week where I literally lost my voice from talking so much, meeting so many people. When I go from one extreme to the other I tend to get a little antsy.

This is only one of many dichotomies I currently find myself navigating. I go between glamourous exhibition openings with gesticulating conversations, meeting person after person and immediately forgetting their names, to lonesome days in front of my paintings - the very paintings that get me to these exhibition openings - singing along to Stevie Nicks or specific sentimental songs that remind me of sentimental people. I am emotionally invested in something but unable to be physically invested. I go between thinking time passes all too quickly without the chance to savour a single second to thinking that it's a slow motion eternity. I want things that if I had them I wouldn't want them anymore.

I am in a brilliant, strange and glistening place at the moment. But it is unfamiliar. It is treacherous. I am making decisions and steering across uncharted territory in my work life, my love life, my social life (okay, all aspects of my life). I am getting older. The overarching protection bubble of youth no longer totally safeguards me and I feel exposed to the elements. I am asking questions that only I can know the answers to.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. It's a good thing. I am learning so much, feeling so much that I've never felt before - the good and the bad. My world seems so much wider now that I know my feelings can transgress oceans, now that I think of events in my life as pieces of a larger puzzle rather than a singular entity that exists outside of a greater plan.

I feel almost like a different person to the self I knew last year. I was so compromised, so enamored with the familiar. It was easy, but I that's exactly why I decided I didn't want it anymore. This year has been a self-exploratory year and it's been remarkable.

Minna Gilligan, 'For you baby', 2014, collage.
The series of badges I designed for Melbourne Art Fair. I am doing a giveaway to win these on my Instagram! @minnagilligan 
In my studio on Monday
Working at home today
Brodie and I at the Melbourne Writer's Festival opening party on Saturday night
As an aside to the rather intense personal rant above (hi guys!) - Brodie and I (plus other amazing gals!) will be speaking at the 'Amazing Babes' event for under 20s this coming Sunday the 31st. We are speaking about women who have influenced us - Brodie is speaking about Tavi and I am speaking about Ella Hooper :) More information and tickets here: http://staging.mwf.com.au/session/amazing-babes/

Thanks for reading as always X

Friday, August 22, 2014

Blue blue electric blue

Waiting for the train this morning pouting like a character from John Water's Cry Baby
The glorious sky today from my office window - Spring in the air
My desk on Thursday morning
'I got plenty of blues and sorta bad news', 2014, acrylic and collage on found image.
This week I have learnt something very important. I have learnt how and when to say no. Literally up until right now, I have said yes to pretty much every business opportunity that has come my way. Someone once said to me "You'll wake up when you're thirty and wonder what happened" - implying that I am a bit of a 'one hit wonder' and don't have what it takes to back it up and turn my practice into a lifelong vocation. Comments and insecurities such as these have led me to have a smear of impostor syndrome - putting all my successes down to luck and coincidence. In this frame of mind, I would grasp onto most decent opportunities that came my way - no matter what, because I thought it could potentially be my last chance. I would half kill myself trying to please everyone with my yeses, trying to do as much as I could to prove myself to myself and to those who had thoughts similar to the: "You'll wake up when you're thirty and wonder what happened" person.

After probably a good 3 years of working in this way, I finally have built up the confidence to say "no" when something doesn't feel right, when a deadline is too tight, when - if I said yes - I'd be working day and night half killing myself to get it done. I no longer have to work in this way. I can curate my career more so than I thought. It's not just a random chain of events and opportunities that I must adhere to. This has been revolutionary for me.

I want my art practice obviously to have integrity, and I also want it to have longevity. I need to start making conscious decisions that will make that possible. I am still learning. Saying no is a thousand times harder than saying yes. Saying yes to everything is associated with spinelessness. I need to be tougher and more fierce in realizing my vision. I need to have a plan, a trajectory for achieving what I want. One hit wonders don't think this way. In seven years, on the morning of my 30th birthday, I am determined to wake up, call that person and tell them how successful and bad ass I am.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bella Donna

To sum it all up:

Image taken by Carolyn West of me amongst my work at the Windsor hotel as a part of Spring 1883.
I have been delaying writing this post because I don't think anything I write could do justice to how busy and brilliant the past week has been. Truly. I'm on such a high and the image of me jumping on the bed is just the perfect summary of it all. Gosh.

This exact time last week I was putting the finishing touches on my installation 'Almost Forever' at The Windsor Hotel as a part of Spring 1883. That day, I'd risen at 5.30am and headed into the exhibition building loaded up with all my work, a bunch of plants, pots and a high visibility vest (so fashion) to install my work for the Melbourne Art Fair. I didn't quite believe I could do two major installs in one day, but I did. I was so proud of myself. However, I couldn't have done it without the help of my Dad, Daine, Jordi and Ben.

Early morning Art Fair install on Tuesday with Jordi
A very tired me beginning install at the Windsor for Spring 1883
Wednesday was a day for very last minute adjustments, and a bit of racing about waiting for a late delivery at the Melbourne Art Fair, an odd lunch alone across the road from the Exhibition building, a very busy Spring 1883 VIP preview at the Windsor in the afternoon, getting changed into my Kenzo jumpsuit in the toilets ready for the opening night at the Art Fair - Vernissage.

The Kenzo jumpsuit yahoo!

Vernissage was lots of fun, I really had a great time and was beaming all night. I thought I would be incredibly stressed but even before any champagne I was far more relaxed than I thought I would be. I think because before the week begun I'd instilled the "pace yourself/stay calm" mantra in my mind and it actually worked. My Mum, Dad and Aunty came along and I was really glad to have them there - I think they all had a great time, too! I felt no pressure to spend time with any one person, I floated about with different people the entire night, many of my friends were there and if I was alone at any point I always had my stand to go back to with my buddies Laura and Ben working there. The Vernissage ended at 10pm and I went to the after party at The Carlton Club briefly with friends Laura, Amelia and Zoe. We were joking that maybe there'd be a tab on the bar and I was very definite that there would not be, we'd already had free Chandon all night at the Vernissage... but when we went to the bar our drinks were indeed free and it was a brilliant yet shocking realization! This was in stark contrast to the usual art events we all attended and it was quite the novelty.

Mum and I at Vernissage in front of my work
Thursday morning was a very civilized 'Champagne Breakfast' at the Windsor for Spring 1883! I wore the most amazing Tsumori Chisato bubble sleeved top that I bought off Ebay - I don't have a picture of it on but I'll get one soon. It is so so elegant and I absolutely love it. It's black and white so I felt very sophisticated - perfect for a morning of pastry eating and listening to a harp player in the Grand Ballroom of the Windsor hotel. After that, I went to the Art Fair to spend time at my stand. That evening I was looking forward to my second night out in a row - to Loop Bar for the Spring 1883 Artist Party. I invited some of my friends so it was going to be good fun! Georgie (who was also working at the Art Fair!) and I left together to meet friends for dinner and have another celebratory champagne! After we all had something to eat (I had pizza yum!) Daine texted me and told me they were still at the Windsor in the Neon Parc suite, and for us all to meet her there. That was very glamorous with people mixing us negronis (too strong for me!) and music. I then had the grand idea to show my friends my installation in our room before we went to Loop bar - so I put on the Lava lamps and some Barry White and we lay about on the bed and danced and drank champagne from the mini hotel fridge. It was great to have my close friends there, I was glad we made that detour.

Loop Bar was so, so much fun. I thought I'd be collapsing from exhaustion, but when we got there Darren Sylvester was just starting his DJ set, and I danced from the minute I arrived to the minute I left. I had an absolute ball. So many people who make me happy were there on the dancefloor. It was all I wanted. Daine was buying Georgie and I light beers so we'd "last longer!" and I felt so grateful for the people in my life who are looking out for me. It felt so lovely.

I caught a cab home alone for the second night in a row and didn't even care about the cost or the time, I was just feeling so elated. I couldn't believe that I didn't feel tired.

Friday morning, though, that tiredness hit me like a freight train. I dragged myself out of bed and couldn't be bothered washing my hair or coming up with an exciting outfit. I was meeting my Nanna in the city to take her to see the Art Fair, so that was pretty low maintenance and luckily I didn't need to look too glamorous! I loved taking my Nanna around and showing her my work, getting her in for free and taking her to get a coffee and stuff. It was really nice. My family are my biggest supporters, every single person in my family made the effort to come and see me and my work over the duration of the fairs. It meant so much to me.

Friday morning with my LOVE badge ;)
Saturday I had a photo shoot with Carolyn West at my Spring 1883 room. I was absolutely stoked with the results. I came up with the outfits and Carolyn worked her magic behind the camera. I had such a fun time and felt really relaxed in front of the camera. You can view all the photos here on Carolyn's blog! http://young-limbs.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/almost-forever-by-minna-gilligan.html
After that, another Melbourne Art Fair afternoon loomed - they also took my photo that day looking rather unenthused:

Saturday night I was invited to yet another party, but just could not bring myself to make an appearance. I'd already begun to lose my voice after talking literally non-stop for the week, and I felt my introvert self had really made a monumental effort so far and I caught the train home when the fair closed at 6pm. The last day was looming and I couldn't quite believe it - the last day looming also meant that deinstall was looming, which I was rather dreading!

Sunday also meant that my family was coming to visit, including my beautiful little twin cousins! I went and met them at the front ticket booth and they were so beyond excited, running from wall to wall and pointing at things and tearing ahead to get to my stand first. It was such a lovely feeling to have them there participating. My other Nanna also came with my Mum and Dad - here is a photo of her and I:

As the day came to an end and my family had gone, I was physically flagging. I went and hid in the bathroom for a few minutes and just closed my eyes and tried to relax and breathe. There I thought about how well I'd done over the duration of both fairs - I'd achieved the almost impossible - producing work for and exhibiting two major installations at exactly the same time. I told myself that all I had to get through now was deinstall - the easiest part. Before those few minutes in the bathroom I didn't think I could do deinstall that evening. After I had composed myself, patted myself on the back and said "GOOD JOB" and walked back out, I knew I could. After all, I'd gotten this far!

At 5pm, when the loudspeaker came over "The fair is now closed, I repeat, the fair is now closed" Laura, Ben and I began ripping down the wonderful work that the participants had made over the duration of the project.

Ben started carting the plants down stairs (I couldn't bear the thought of doing that again - neither could my aching arms and legs!) and we took down the fabric prints. It was once again an empty space and seemed like such a dream - it disappeared so quickly I begun to wonder if any of it even happened!

It was about 7pm when Ben and I headed to the Windsor to begin deinstall there. As I we wound our way for the last time through the grand Wes Anderson/The Shining-esque corridors of the fourth floor I realised I'd somehow lost the key to our room... I emptied the contents of my bag on the floor outside our door and I was sitting splay legged amongst it frantically searching though. It was gone. It must have fallen out somewhere.

Like many little hiccups over the past week - this was resolved by the serendipitous kindness of a friend who happened to be the front of house manager for Spring 1883 and was walking past just as I was about to give up. She had a spare key - gave me a hug and Ben and I opened the door to rip down my silver streamers as unceremoniously as possible.

At this point, I had the giggles. I was absolutely delirious with exhaustion and found most things about the whole situation absolutely hilarious. I had wanted to order room service at some point while I had the exhibition at the Windsor, and this was my last chance. I dialed 9 and ordered a bowl of wedges and a bowl of chips for Ben and I to share as we bubbled wrapped my many knick knacks and reflected over the ridiculousness of the hand pillow I'd made - which actually sold to someone. I know. I don't know what my life is either.

I am notoriously dodgy when it comes to packing my art for transportation, and this was no exception. I think I have horrified Daine on many occasions but this time, the bubble wrap I was using was absolutely ruined and had holes in it and didn't fit the paintings and I was in hysterics with Ben who was helping, being like "This one's ready to go to MoMa!" or "This one's being delivered to the NGV now!" with the mangled bubble wrapping barely covering the corners of the paintings. We had a beer and I was feeling very light and happy. I couldn't believe it was over. I couldn't believe I was packing the paintings up when I'd just been nervously unpacking them. Time was so distorted last week. It seemed equally like the longest time ever and the shortest time ever. I do know, however, that it was the best time ever.

My sophisticated choice for room service
I caught the train home at 9.30, carrying with me my giant hand pillow. It was so surreal. I got out my iPad and watched Stevie Nicks 1982 White Wing Dove concert (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9fuzSWRqP0) Both her and the incredible people in my life at the moment have made me feel all powerful, made me beam with joy and gratefulness for the incredible position I have found myself in. I can't express this properly but I will try again soon... Will also post pictures of the installs so those from all corners of the world can get a good look. I have so much more to say but will attempt to with a little more retrospect - this time I want to finish on the picture of this cherub (below) - doing some collaging and wearing my LOVE badge. Pretty much made my week.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

It's all happening

I was in the paper today! It was all very exciting. If you've read the article, or follow me on other social media sites - you will know what it was in aid of! I am FINALLY able to share with you that I am publishing a book, an in real life BOOK, with Hardie Grant, coming out late 2015. That is what I have been annoyingly hinting about on here since like, January! Wahoo! The book is going to be based around dressing and fashion - combining vintage pieces with contemporary pieces, detailing my inspiration sources, my favourite finds... I like thinking of dressing as kind of like making a collage. I am consistently drawing from a number of different sources and periods in time to create something that is familiar and yet totally new. I am excited to explore fashion in what I feel is a more legitimate sense. I have always had an affinity with the 'medium' - if you will. More details to come, of course!

The article in The Age today, brilliantly written by Philippa Hawker, is available to read online here.

Today pretty much marks the beginning of the biggest week of my entire life. Art Fair week. And I'm in two art fairs. In amongst all of that madness, I also have a meeting with my publisher - the first proper one since the book has been approved. Eek! I think I said to someone that I was 60% anxious and 40% excited for this coming week. I think those statistics are still similar as I begin. After I read the article in the paper excitedly this morning I said to my Dad - "sheesh, I better actually pull something off now!" This week I hopefully will!

I suppose I am 60% anxious about just not having time to decompress. Usually one or two social events a week are enough for me - and usually one or two of my own exhibitions a YEAR is enough for me! This week I am literally going from social event to social event, exhibition opening to exhibition opening, media preview to media preview, and I'm afraid I might crash, as I have been known to do in the past when things get a bit much for me. I know I just have to pace myself, not talk at a thousand miles an hour and not get too hyper or enthusiastic. I had lunch with a friend the other day and they were like - "This is why artists stereotypically look grumpy and wear sunglasses and smoke in a corner at their own opening!" and I kind of totally get that now, like it's impossible to muster enough enthusiasm to be "ON" all the time you know. I know I'm probably still going to half kill myself trying, though. I need to learn to sometimes let other people do the talking rather than filling all spaces with often meaningless excitable words, and just chill OUT a bit! Easier said than done though. We'll see!

Install is on Tuesday. 8am start. I am very pleased to have my Dad helping me that morning, he has a big truck for work that always fits my big art in so we don't have to get random couriers to drive it places. It helps to know your family is there to look out for you. Currently everything is sitting in my room, just waiting to be bubble wrapped. I have a selection of plants in pots and stacks of books to bring to Melbourne Art Fair. I have a '60s fuschia coloured feather duster, big paintings, strange pillow sculptures and lots of faux fur to bring to The Windsor. I feel like I am moving house or something!

I'm not sure if I will get a chance to post here before the madness begins, so I'm going to give you all the details for the two exhibitions, should you live in the right part of the world to attend, and should you want to attend of course!


Melbourne Art Fair Creative Space
Carlton Gardens' Royal Exhibition Building
14th - 17th August, 2014
Adult: $28 in advance / $30 at the door
Concession: $22 in advance and at the door
Kids: Under 16 free when accompanied by an adult

I am running the 2014 Creative Space at the Melbourne Art Fair! There will be 8 new works of mine on display, as well as tables set up with paper, collage material and textas for you to create your own collage! I am planning on spending as much time as possible in the space, and will be letting you guys know when I'm going to be there on my Twitter account and Instagram account. Yay! I would love to hang out and make collages with some readers. I should note, as well, that I have designed a series of badges that will be available at the stand for participants. They are exclusive to the stand at the art fair and will be in limited quantities, so get down when you can to avoid missing out y'all!

Spring 1883
'Almost Forever'
The Windsor Hotel
111 Spring St, Melbourne
14th - 17th August
Thurs - Sat: 12pm - 6pm
Sun: 12pm - 4pm
Admission: Free

'Almost Forever' as a part of Spring 1883 at the Windsor Hotel is an installation in the bedroom of a hotel suite. I am totally inhabiting the space and will be displaying new paintings amongst faux fur, soft sculptures, knick knacks and fabric prints. It will literally be all my psychedelic dreams come true. If you are going to the Melbourne Art Fair, the Windsor is only about two tram stops back towards the city, and it's free! Each gallery participating in Spring 1883 has their own hotel suite, and so you will be able to walk through other suites and look at the work of other artists. It is a much more intimate environment. The Windsor is an amazing building and you should also keep in mind that they do morning tea there! ;) I will be floating about the Windsor at select times throughout the duration of the exhibition, and again will be posting details of my whereabouts on Twitter and Instagram. :)

If you would like any further information, please contact my gallerist Daine Singer at info@dainesinger.com


I think that's about it. Wish me luck in not collapsing from exhaustion! My mantra for this week will be "pace yourself". But I also have to remember to enjoy myself and not turn into a ball of stress! I'm excited. I'm nervous. I'm getting all worked up sitting here in my bed thinking about it! Ha ha. Below are some recent pictures, and then I think I should hop off to bed for an early night.

Pile'o'books and one of the badge designs below

'Play the way you feel it', 2014, collage and acrylic on found image. New work for Melbourne Art Fair.
Recent Rookie illustration for an article about witches by Lucy!
Starry starry night... zzz

Sunday, August 3, 2014


Having a pretty boring Sunday afternoon right now. I know I just needa pick up a paintbrush and I'll feel better, but I just keep getting caught up online and in trailing, wistful thoughts. I think art making is equally easy and hard. It's incredibly consuming emotionally and at the same time very cathartic and even enjoyable.

This coming week I've swapped my days around at work so I have more preparation time for my two exhibitions that are rapidly, rapidly approaching. I have work tomorrow and Tuesday instead of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and then I have the following week off because that's the crazy week of the Melbourne Art Fair and Spring 1883. I can't believe how quickly they've creeped around, it's very disconcerting. I'm also not going to know myself not going into the office for a little bit. It's definitely not going to be a holiday though, that's for sure. It's not meant to be though. I'm installing both exhibitions on the same day, which is going to be absolutely insane. I cannot even image how many chocolate bars I'm going to have to eat to get through. Also after I'm done I am totally getting a Grilled burger by myself not even joking. Daine and I just figured out our "schedule" for the week of 11th - 16th. It is INSANE. But, insane in a way that involves lots of parties and *VIP* events and free cocktails. It also does involve lugging of canvases and hammering and walking and carrying pot plants (I know... you'll see soon...) so it's going to be two pretty different extremes. I imagine I'm going to be doing a lot of outfit changes on the run/in public toilets/behind a pot plant in my exhibition or something. I equally love and hate that because I feel like superwoman but also feel like a vagabond/just want to have a shower. Curse living so far away from civilization!

I am excited though because I bought the most amazing Kenzo jumpsuit to wear to the Melbourne Art Fair Vernissage. It's coming in the mail later this week and I am beyond into it. Maybe I will stay home all day and wait for the postman. (This is my life) The only thing is, I think I'm going to have to buy another one or even two dress/formal outfits for the opening at the Windsor/Pamela performance/VIP previews because I couldn't POSSIBLY be seen in the same outfit the next morning after the night before... plus any excuse'll do for me really. I want something else Kenzo but don't have enough time for it to come in the mail/will not pay full price from Myer... so I might get something from the new Romance was Born collection. Hmm. Decisions decisions.

After going through my schedule of parties with Daine I was like oh this is sad because I don't have a date to bring to most of the things. My friend Georgia is coming to Vernissage with one of my tickets, and Mum and Dad will come as well. I'll be pretty much be at my stand that evening anyway, but I'm glad to have some people coming. However, there are lots of other things that week where I will have to go it alone, just like old times. There's a little pang when I think of that. But then I think that I don't care/shouldn't care because I am fabulous (or so I tell myself in moments of loneliness or self doubt), but it's still kind of there you know. I know that I won't even be thinking about it once the ball is rolling, but at the moment it seems a little sad that I don't have anyone to share it with. Yeah I know, boo hoo, but I am guaranteed to have a couple of awkward moments when I realise I am standing entirely alone!

I went out on Friday night because I'm trying to keep the socialising alive. I went to an exhibition opening after work and saw a couple of friends there, then I went to meet up with Brodie at a gig that her friend was playing at. It was nice to hang out with a totally different group of people, it usually is if they're nice people - which they were. I had a couple of drinks but didn't stay out too late, I think I even left before the headlining band came on... whoops. But I made the effort and I got to see Brodie and that was lovely and I'm glad I went instead of moping about at home.

Yesterday I just did work, as I did today. I also went to Savers and bought a whole bunch of books for people to cut out for collage at Melbourne Art Fair. It's going to be really fun, and anyone thinking of coming along should definitely make the trip. I'm going to post more details about when I'm going to be there (I'm planning on being there at least a couple of hours a day!) and we can have a chat :) (If you want to!) ha ha. As usual, would love to meet some readers.

Hmm okay this is very long and doesn't actually appear to have a point as such... I feel like watching a Wes Anderson film tonight even though I know it will make me overly sensitive for like the next week (probably not a good idea!) I'll think on it... in the meantime I really do have to pick up a paintbrush now, lest I have nothing to show you in a week's time!

The (wo)man in the (public toilet) mirror